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Environment

News

National responses to World Bank’s energy strategy review

29 November 2010

An October report by UK NGO Christian Aid, Energy for our common future, brings together responses by civil society groups in India, Bolivia, Peru and South Africa to the World Bank’s energy strategy review (see Update 72, 71, 68). The report includes position papers, case studies and alternative approaches from a national perspective, with important implications for the Bank’s role in energy provision. There are clear commonalities between the national papers, with contributors agreeing that the Bank must focus funding on renewable energy sources, prioritise energy access for the poor, and that developed countries have a historical responsibility for climate change.

Each paper also reveals unique perspectives based on national experiences. The South African paper, prepared by NGOs the Economic Justice Network and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, cites widespread opposition to the Bank’s loan to power utility company Eskom and coal-fired power stations generally (see Update 71, 70), and stresses the importance of decentralised micro-generation in meeting rural energy needs. It also recommends that energy user subsidies should not be ruled out as they are pivotal in increasing energy access for the poor, and that intellectual property rights should never be allowed to prevent access to technology at low prices.

The Peruvian perspective was prepared by NGOs the National Association of Research Groups, Social Welfare and Development, Citizens against Climate Change, and the Centre for Agricultural Development. Given that 35 per cent of the country’s electricity is generated by gas, it calls for Bank support for the diversification of energy resources, with a move towards renewable, localised provision administered by decentralised authorities. It also emphasises the need for financial credit and technical assistance programmes.

The Bolivian submission, prepared by NGO’s Fundación Solón and the Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, underlines the importance of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held in Cochabamba in the spring, and recommends that the Bank accepts its conclusions on the need for alternative approaches. Central is a call for a paradigm shift towards the concept of ‘living well’, a type of developmental growth that seeks quality of life for all made possible through more equal sharing of the worlds resources.